diy project: pillow shams

this fun guys sewing project (brett will be back for sewing 101 next week!) comes from jacinda of prudent baby. {thanks for sharing, jacinda!}

In my home we have a strict 4 pillow (2 per person) rule in our bed. So I came up with a solution for having pretty pillows that you can still sleep on. This design is unique in that there is not a seam down the middle on the back. You could even use a different fabric on the back for a semi-reversible pillow, which might make it feel like having even more pillows, right? –Jacinda

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!

What You’ll Need:

The sizes listed here are for a king-size pillow. You can easily alter the dimensions by measuring a pillowcase that fits your pillow and adding 5″ to the height and width.

For one king-size pillow I used:

1 piece 26″ x 36″
1 piece 26″ x 35″
1 piece 26″ x 9″ (I sewed the narrow leftover strips of fabric from the other two pieces together to make this third piece, allowing one pillow to be made from 1.5 yards of fabric total. Since this piece is mostly hidden, it worked great.)


1. Along the 26″ length of the 26″x9″, fold over a 1/2″ seam, iron, fold over 1/2″ again and iron. (2 shown.)  Ignore the seam down the middle, that is where I patched the fabric together.

2. Along the 26″ length of the 26″ x 35″, fold over a 1/2″ seam, iron, fold over 1/2″ again and iron. (2 shown)

3. Straight stitch hem on both pieces approx 1/8″ from inside edge.

4. Lay down 26″x36″ piece with right-side-up and lay 26″x35″ on top, right-side-down, aligning the 3 raw edges.

5. Now lay down the 26″x9″ piece right-side-down, aligning the 3 raw edges on the opposite end.

6. Pin all around and sew 1/2″ from edge all the way around. If your machine has a setting for automatically stopping with needle down, this is a great time to use it. When you get to a corner, lift the foot, turn the fabric using the needle (in the down position) to hold it in place, then lower your foot and continue sewing the next side.

7. Trim a bit of fabric from all four corners.

8. Make sure you remove ALL pins at this point. Turn your piece inside-out and use a pointy object (crochet hook works great) to make sharp corners.

9. Iron your outer edge. I use a piece of cardboard inside the pillow to get a nice straight edge.

10. Pin the pillow all the way around approximately 3″ from the edge.

11. Starting along the short side of your pillow (the side with the opening.) Begin 2″ in and 2″ from the side. Your stitch will be very close to your opening but do not sew your opening closed. When you get 2″ from the end of that side, use the method mentioned above to turn your corner.

12. After you turn, sew entire length. stopping 2″ from edge. You will sew across the opening slit on this side, make sure all layers are flat and straight.

13. Repeat for the last two sides. You will meet up where you started just after crossing over the opening for a second time.

And you’re done! Except that you probably need to make a pair, unless of course you have a strict 1 pillow policy, then you really are done.

  1. anne says:

    Love this project! What is the paint color of the bedroom walls?

  2. Dear Jacinda, thank you for explaining this very nice cushion cut, it will be so useful to me-it saves from sewing a zip into my handwoven cushions.. I have to try this!

  3. Livi says:

    that fabric is seriously, wunderbar

  4. Betty says:

    What material is that?

  5. cb says:

    i love the pillow sham fabric but I LOVE that little quail picture! i painted one similar to that but love those colors…

  6. estelle says:

    Yes, I so want to know where I can find that fabric.

  7. Jennifer says:

    I was wondering what color the wall paint is!

  8. Amanda says:

    The DIY project I’ve been waiting for! we’ve implemented a strict 2 pillow per person rule too, and I usually don’t like decorative shams for purchase (or they are wildly expensive for what they are). Myself not being the most skilled sewer, and being challenged when it comes to estimating the amount of fabric needed for projects, would you mind posting your best guess measurements for standard and queen sized pillows? Thank you for this project!

  9. AD says:

    The room is gorgeous, but where did that lovely little quail print come from? It is to die for!

  10. graciela. says:

    I’ll definitely try this project out. I recently made the duvet cover that was featured on d*s so this is perfectly timed.

  11. Annik Miller says:

    I love the quail print. Will you share the name of the artist? And thanks for the shams tutorial :)

  12. Ashleigh says:

    May I ask where the quail picture is from??

  13. GB says:

    Awwww- that quail print is adorable!

    :D We enforce the two-pillow rule at our home as well.

  14. knwill says:

    Fabric please?

  15. Jillian says:

    Ooh, these are gorgeous, and I can’t wait to make them. I love the color palette of this room.

  16. Ashley says:

    I love the fabric and the print but I really love the LAMP! Where is that from?

    1. grace says:


      it looks like a standard stick lamp- and the shade is from ikea (i saw it last summer but don’t see it online any more, sorry)


  17. Danielle says:

    yes i love the quail print! it reminds me of the partridge family.

  18. sari says:

    Love that cute picture with the birds! xo, sbg

  19. Eleanor says:

    Hey, Ladies!

    I’m the Quail artist –

    Thank you – this is such a great post! Love those pillows…they sort of remind me of the classic Coty Powder repeat.

  20. Leslie says:

    Fabric is Jo Ann’s brand, I think. Can’t remember the name.

    JUST had a pillow made in that exact fabric and picked it up yesterday! CRAZY!

  21. PleinJane says:

    Except for the fact that I didn’t recognize it, I thought the print might be a Charley Harper. The website Jaime referenced has several similar and wonderful prints by Eleanor Grosch. Chronicle Books also offers notecards! Another passion is developing… :^)

  22. Jacinda says:

    Sorry to get back to y’all so late. The paint is Benjamin Moore – Chelsea Gray in Flat. Grace was right on the Ikea lamp shade although I haven’t seen it recently. The fabric was purchased at Joann Fabrics but I have no further info on it. It is quite likely store-brand. If anyone finds it again, let me know! Thanks!

  23. Thanks for the great post. I was just in B&J fabrics this past weekend and has overload. This will be a great project for some custom pillowcases. I was even entraining a duvet cover, or coverlet… Humm. Might be too advanced!

  24. Terri says:

    I also have imposed a two pillow per person rule in our home! I’m all for creative practicality.

  25. Emily says:

    What paint is on the walls? I’m in love – it’s such a warm tone!

  26. phoebe says:

    Haha, I’m sitting on a chair covered in that exact fabric right now! Isn’t it great? I got it from JoAnn Fabrics in the quilters cotton prints wall, but it was a while ago now, and I haven’t seen it there since and it’s not on their website.

  27. Meg says:

    I have this fabric also! I purchased yards of it in fear I would never find it again!! Looks great on the pillows. :)

  28. fabi says:

    diy and sewign are AWASOME!!!! This one is particularly easy and useful – not to say money-saving! KEEP ON!

  29. nancy says:

    Here’s a link to the fabric:

    The fabric is part of the Keepsake Calico Collection called “Green Berries”. I know since I have some.

  30. Kelli says:

    Do you make PDF’s of your DIY projects? I’d make one myself but I’m not sure how. You come up with some GREAT ideas! I’m going to do this project soon.

  31. Kay Watson says:

    Love the project. Is there a PDF version that we can print and take to our sewing room. I love having hard copies so I can put in a folder and go back later and make.

  32. James says:

    Unless I missed something, it doesn’t appear you fold any edges of the large piece of fabric prior to pinning to back pieces, is that correct? I want to make certain as I’m working with a very limited amount of vintage fabric and have no room for error. Thank you!


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